Moot Court returns to JC for the first time since 2017

Anna Deaver, Senior Coverage Editor

For the first time in five years, John Carroll is organizing a team for the Maryland MyLaw Moot Court competition. The competition is not guaranteed to occur every year, and the last time it was held was 2017. Previous competitions occurred in 2015 and 2016, this year marking the fourth time in the last 10 years that the competition may be held.

Math Department Teacher Sean Connolly is the coach of the Moot Court and Mock Trial teams at John Carroll. Mr. Connolly is excited for the opportunity for John Carroll to take part, having coached a team to state-wide victory in 2016.

Moot Court is an appeal in front of a panel of judges representing the Supreme Court. Teams of two students take on the role of the individuals making the appeal or the individuals defending the previous ruling.

The company MyLaw simulates an issue each year and supplies students with previous cases to use as a basis for their speeches.

Typically, two issues are argued. For this year’s case, the first issue is about the Commerce Clause and whether or not Congress has the power to pass a law regarding a mandatory polio vaccine. The second issue deals with the Fifth Amendment and whether or not the law can punish someone for refusing a mandatory vaccine.

Unlike Mock Trial, there are no witnesses or question-and-answer periods. In Mock Trial, the teams attempt to reach a verdict on a case, whereas in Moot Court, teams are attempting to reverse or defend a verdict that has already been made.

Mr. Connolly said, “It’s more like legal speech and debate.”

The issues debated in Moot Court are typically connected to the Bill of Rights. In previous years, cases have tackled freedom of speech in social media, search and seizure in schools, and freedom of religion in schools.

The skills developed in Moot Court are also applicable to situations outside of the courtroom.

Mr. Connolly commented, “In terms of actual skills, it helps you analyze complex issues, think on your feet, respond to someone else’s argument, and give persuasive speeches using logic and reason as to why your point of view is correct.”

During a Moot Court competition, the judges will interrupt the student to ask questions and attack their argument. The competitors learn to make a rebuttal and be able to defend their case from a variety of attacks, which helps with reaction time as well as making cohesive, concise arguments.

This year’s competition takes place on October 22. Any student interested in being part of the team should email Mr. Connolly or stop by Room 108 for more details.